I was having a conversation with my husband, Mark, a few days ago about the John 5 story of the paralyzed man at the Pool called Bethesda near the Sheep Gate going into Jerusalem.
Now, in general this was not very attractive real estate. First of all, the sheep gate was where the sheep went in – but never came out. Slaughtering went on just inside that gate, so the respectable people of the city would never use that gate. It was unclean. Unclean in the dead animal, slaughterhouse sort of way.
On top of that, the Bethesda Pool nearby, was where the invalids, diseased, crippled, outcasts and rejects – all unclean --gathered, hoping for a handout, or maybe a miracle.
Jesus came by that gate – and like everything he did – he had a purpose and a lesson. He saw a paralyzed guy who had been lying on his mat for 38 years. I can’t even imagine how filthy that mat must have been. Did it have bugs and fleas?
Do you think that man might have felt sorry for himself? Just a little?
So, Jesus looked at the guy and said, “Do you WANT to be healed?”
This is where our conversation got interesting. Mark suggested that the reason Jesus asked that question was because he knew that the man possibly enjoyed the comfort of his “memory foam” mat, and he kind of reveled in his misery. Sometimes we ask God for things, but we’d actually prefer the comfort of our own habitual sins and sadness, because it’s so familiar. We’re used to things that way; it’s just the way we are.
Well our guy came up with an excuse – in all of his 38 years, he had never been able to get one person to help him to the pool in time to be healed. Not one person gave him a hand. Sounds a little defeatist.
Jesus abruptly said, “Get up, take up your bed and walk.”
The story isn’t over. Jesus and the guy saw each other again.
Later that day when the guy was confronted with questions about what happened since it was the Sabbath, he said, “I didn’t do it, that man told me to get up and walk.” Really!! Blame your healer for the miracle?
So when Jesus bumped into him even later, Jesus said, “I see you’re well.” (maybe a little sarcasm?)
And then Jesus said, “Sin no more that nothing worse may happen to you.”
So, how comfortable is my mat by the pool, anyway?
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